UC Master Gardeners, Santa Clara County, CA
University of California
UC Master Gardeners, Santa Clara County, CA

Water Wise Plants

Eschscholzia californica

esh-SHOLZ-ee-ah cal-ih-FOR-nih-kah
Common Name
California Poppy
Plant Type
Mature Size
6 in. wide and 6 in. to 12 in. tall
Water Requirements
Low: water every three weeks until the root ball is wet
Sun/Shade Requirements
Full sun
Flower Color
Bright orange, golden, pale yellow, red, cream, rose
  • Bees
  • Beneficials
Maintenance- Design- Planting Tips

To provide design unity in our water-wise beds, we like to have one or more plants repeat in all the beds. In the spring, bright orange California native poppies fill that role in our garden. Although California poppies are perennials in our area, they can be treated as annuals.

California poppies can be problematic because they are aggressive reseeders. They must be heavily thinned out in areas you want to keep them and removed in areas you don't want them. They can get to be a sizable one and a half feet wide and can smother other plants.

California poppies look great in wild areas and are lovely massed. They make excellent temporary fillers if you are starting a new bed with small plants.

California poppies can get by on almost no summer water, but they tend to look shabby and weedy under these conditions. To encourage continuous bloom, you should provide moderate amounts of water and trim the plants back to almost ground level when the foliage turns grey and the plants lose their flowers.

Most retail nurseries and many hardware stores sell seeds for California poppies. Larner Seeds, a mail order company, is a good source of seeds for some of the less common varieties of these California natives.

Plant seeds in the fall for a spring show. Be sure to cover seeds with mulch to hide them from the birds and water regularly until they sprout if the winter rains have not arrived.

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